Feb, 2021 - By SMI
Researchers in the U.S. have reported that an aromatic herb, Artemisia annua, interferes with the replication of SARS-CoV-2 which is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Artemisia annua, also known as ‘Sweet Annie’, traces its origin back in Asia. It produces an antimalarial agent called artemisinin and is used in the treatment of malaria for more than 2,000 years. China is the largest supplier of raw material of Artemisia annua globally and the first country to extract artemisinin. Artemisia annua has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for a long time and this plant is the only source of artemisinin. Many analogues and derivatives of artemisinin have been produced in order to improve its activity and utility.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Columbia University in New York, the University of Washington, and Worchester Polytechnic Institute has revealed that Artemisia annua extracts exhibit antiviral activity against severe acute respiratory coronavirus. This study is based on hot-water extracts of wide variety of Artemisia annua sourced from four continents. The study also reveals that the active components found in the extracts have the capacity to block post-entry viral infection. The study mentions the requirement of human trials and if clinical trials become successful, then, Artemisia annua could serve as an alternative to vaccines globally and could be available at a reasonable cost.
Researchers also reported that there is minimum antiviral effect of extracts against pseudoviruses that contain spike protein (S protein) of SARS-CoV-2. S protein plays an important role in viral infection and pathogenesis. This led to an important conclusion by the team that Artemisia annua prevents SARS-CoV-2 infection by targeting post-entry step.
A study in the past has already reported that Artemisia annua and artemisinin both have reduced levels of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-. It has been found that critical COVID-19 patients have a significant higher level of IL-6 and TNF-. Artemisia annua, thus, might be a cost-effective and safe approach in treating patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections.
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